Saturday, October 30, 2010


I am obsessed with these Amy Butler wallpapers.  The one on the bottom is the one I like the very best. 
It would be for one wall in what is now Freyja's playroom, but hopefully will someday return to being the second half of the dinning area.

the felt acorn

felted wool acorns

I forced my children to felt wool acorns with me last Tuesday.  

They were fighting and snarling and I thought a little sit down with hot soapy water would be just the ticket to settle them down.

Maxwell wound up with two woolen snakes (the boy is simply not crafty!), but  Freyja made some excellent  faux nuts. 

My plan is to hang these and some real,gilded (ok, not really gilded, but spray painted gold) acorns by fishing line, from curly willow branches, as a center piece for Thanksgiving.

I am having an artist friend draw me a line drawing of a goat standing on top of a giant acorn, which I will glue onto old fashioned packing labels and use as name tags for the guests.

filling the house up with junk, or collections, you decide

I like stuff a lot.  
I think I have stated here a number of times how I am far from a minimalist.  I am perhaps a maxamalist, if such a thing exists.  I sometimes feel a little defensive about my love of stuff, of collecting- living in a progressive town like Portland, with a zenned out hippie around every corner, one sometimes grows weary and even a little cranky at the whole minimalist aesthetic you find.    I also work in a setting where there is a very rigid notion of what is beautiful and what is not. 
When I come home, I want to luxuriate in my packed little domain, in my piles of old stuff.  It makes me happy and secure.   I am a happy packrat.

Thank goodness I have a whole host of enablers all around me providing me with fuel for my fire!

Rolf is a chemist, so we have a lot of scientific glassware lying around, so recently I started putting little decorative things into the various  glass containers sitting in the  he basement

I have no idea what their real purpose is. 

The ones with the funny little horns are some kind of vacuum, I know that much. 

I have chosen to fill  one it with an old school Deutsche Mark and the other with a Lira, because the artwork on these bills is beautiful and I have nothing better to do with them, now that the Euro is king.  

I also have a little ceramic bust of my dearly departed poodle Teddy Braun, inside what I believe is some other type of vacuum. 
The columns and flasks are filled with colored water.
The Frigidaire Flair!
1968 Japanese mug

In addition to liking random cool stuff, like scientific glassware, there is my well documented love of mid century pottery and ceramics, not to mention vintage appliances. 
I found this fabulous little mug, in my color scheme at Goodwill last week, for $00.99 and it made me deliriously happy for days.  I am working hard to find a replacement for our "Flair" stove, but if I can't find a good one, I now know there is a man in his late 80's in St. Helens that could repair mine.  Transporting a 350# stove to St. Helens in my station wagon might pose a problem though...

Sunday, October 24, 2010


I have had an aching back for as long as I can remember and over the years I have tried every modality of massage and body work out there.  
I have had expensive massages in fancy salons, and freaky massages in dimly lit apartments.

I have been massaged by a blind woman, who burst into song in the middle of my massage, sharing with me later that "singing is her gift to the world".  I can never hear "what's it all about Alfie?" without thinking of Sue.

I once went to the home of a single mama massage therapist for a massage and had her two children burst in and proceed to wrestle underneath the rather rickety old table.

I started my search for the perfect hour free of pain in 1986.

I spent the enormous sum of  $60 on a one hour session with  the fabulous Cynthia Hillis, and it was worth every penny. 
She had a tiny studio in the building over the old Metro on Broadway, that is now Columbia Sportswear's headquarters.  I used to save and save to have a massage with her every six weeks. 

During a long broke spell I lost track of Cynthia and moved on to Toni.  Toni was one of those early 90's riot grrrls, with lots of piercings and a women's study degree. She was very into abdominal massage, which is not really my thing, but I felt like I would be hurting her feelings to say so. 

From Toni, I went to Mary Garvy for transformational massage, which was excellent, until she moved to Beaverton, I would sometimes cheat on Mary with Babbette Perkins, who offered body brushing.  There is really nothing better than body brushing. Sadly she also moved to the westside.

A long string of one massage stands followed through the 90's many excellent therapists and a few nutjobs.
The woman who did bookings for Key Largo, and offered foot massage as a side gig and referred to herself and an empath...
The remarkable fellow who did massage and astrological readings and made house-calls, who always  made me feel like he was vaguely inappropriate.

One of the most outstanding massage therapists I have ever worked with is Chris Lacey, who I was lucky enough to meet while he was still offering house-calls, and doing some Swedish work.  Chris eventually went to a total Thai massage practice, which is awesome, but not at all relaxing the way traditional massage is.   If you ever find yourself in Portland and want the best Thai massage this side of Thailand, check out Chris.  He takes it all very seriously and spends a good chunk of time, post massage telling your how to fix your posture, and lots of handy exercises you can do to make your back feel better.  All of which I personally chose to ignore.

My go to guy during times when I can't say stand up straight or get out of bed without wincing, is Dave from Morning Star massage.  Dave is kind of scary looking, like a cross between Santa Claus and a Hell's Angel, but he does excellent deep tissue massage on the cheap- what he calls "massage for working people".  Ninety minutes with   Dave is $45 spent very wisely!

My new favorite place to go is the Chinese reflexology clinic  in the Fubonn center on 82nd. 

You can get some Pho, pick up a fabulous Hello Kitty handbag, and have some VERY intense shiatsu done all in the same trip to this remarkable Asian mall. 

The massage is $19.99, with a very strongly suggested $5 "tip". 

Still a huge bargain for an hour massage with foot bath included, and unlike at The Barefoot Sage (where they charge you $50!), they work on you while your feet are soaking. 
When I say work on you, I mean it- they slap, pound, twist and beat the knots out.  It is amazing.
The treatment all takes place in big dimly lit room, with five other people getting treated at the same time.  You lie on this sort of Barcalounger/massage table hybrid, with your feet soaking in a big bamboo tub, while they work on your head and shoulders, then they move the tub and do your feet and legs.
Fancy and private it aint, but thorough and intense it is.
 Some of us were VERY excited to carve pumpkins...

 and some of us would have rather been playing video games.

fall cooking

 I have been struggling with blogger a lot.

To the point where I haven't felt like even trying to post, since it takes so long and is so full of frustration.

I was happy to read that other people are experiencing he same issues, since the "improvements" went into effect.

A little bit of  schadenfreude.   

I was buoyed by my discovery of the misery of others decided to bite the bullet and post a few photos of all the cookery that has been going on in the finch haus of late.
 I made a most fabulous carrot soup for Maxwell last Saturday, pureed in honor of his sore mouth.

I didn't expect other people to really eat it, but every last spoonful was devoured by our Saturday night dinner guests! It really was delicious.

I chose to put sour cream on mine.

Carrots, sweet potatoes, caramelized onion, safron, garlic, ginger, vegetable broth, pureed to a velvety texture.

 I had donated a gift certificate for cupcakes, to a school auction, and the recipient called in her marker for a dozen devil's food, with buttercream frosting.  I baked, boxed and delivered 18 nearly perfect cakes, and had a little batter left over to make a tiny bunt cake for the fam.
 I made this pumpkin pie for Maxwell's school lunches, because he thought that pumpkin pie would be soft enough to eat, even with a sore mouth.  My acorn cut outs didn't come out so hot, but the leaves look pretty. 
 Then I made these two pumpkin pies a week later, because the first one was very popular.
 Rolf bought a giant bag of new potatoes at a farm on Sauvie Island, which we celebrated by making scalloped potatoes with a salad of arugula with local hazelnuts, blue cheese, radish, and a pear vinegar dressing.  

Brace Face

Maxwell got braces recently and it has been a bit traumatic.  

His whole face swelled up pretty badly the day after they were put on and he couldn't eat for a whole week.  

He seems to be doing fairly well now though.

I had hoped that my children would inherit my  teeth and my hair, all the rest could come from their dad. Mark had braces and headgear starting in 4thgrade, but Maxwell's teeth were super slow to come in, so we are off to a later start.

 As far as genetics go  Miss F has Marks thin hair and high forehead and Maxwell has his terribly crooked teeth, he did get my big mouth though.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

International House of Cake

the bar with a poodle theme
We had a party for Rolf's birthday.  His birthday is June 28th...  I was a little slow getting it together this year.  Mark is out of town for ten days, so entertaining wasn't really on my agenda, but with Halloween and Thanksgiving nipping at my heels, this seemed like the only time. 

I just invited his friends, none of our friends, and none of mine, as I just felt too overwhelmed to have fun.

He wanted a dessert party, so everyone brought their favorites!

and because I am insane, I chose to peel all the labels off the wine, and replace them with vintage illustrations. 
The one with Little Red Ridinghood says "in his heart the wolf was planning mischief." 
Does it get any better than that?

Rolf with his big bread.  He must have told me a dozen times "I have ordered the big bread."
  My children call this type of bread "Onkie bread". 
It comes from our favorite bakery The Pearl. 
I made chutney over fromage blanc, to spread on the bread and lots of stinky cheese was purchased.

Oh, and I made a cordial out of the elderberry syrup  I made earlier in the summer.
pear, sour cherry and ginger chutney over soft mild cheese.  A winning combination!

I look like I could use a good haircut and perhaps a better bra, or posture. YIKES! 
I am pictured with baba au rum, apfel kuchen and baked apples with cream and rosemary.

Mint melt aways, Jordan almonds and apricot candies with illustrations of Ripley St. Jude.
  Blogger is acting all wacky and not letting me add photos in any kind of order and I am getting really frustrated, so this post will degenerate and be poorly written. 
Stoopid Blogger, I hate you.

 Rosie brought this Hungarian cake that looks like a tree branch, there was only candle light so the photo isn't great.

 Sovij made this baked Alaska and took the prize for most extravagant, when he doused it in brandy and set it aflame! 
There was also one of the best blueberry pies I have ever tasted, brought by our survivalist friend and his wife- they grew all the ingredients, of course.
                       Rolf made Swedish cream with raspberry sauce too. 
Who could forget that?

Our sieve had gone missing, so Rolf rigged up this cheese cloth device for straining the berries. 

I sort of milked it with my hands to get all the juice out. 

It is what every host wants to do an hour before the guests arrive.

the aftermath

Onkel with some tired girls

Friday, October 1, 2010

Driving me crazy


Driving and car pooling and running around relentlessly trying to keep up. 

Mark bought one of those planner calendar things, to help keep it all straight.

There are postings all over Facebook about those kids that  were bullied, the ones that committed suicide. 

There are giant billboards of that missing kid, even though we all know the step-mother did it.

I feel distracted, by it all. 

It makes me tired.

We are attempting to be organize, involved parents. 

Which apparently means running from one open house to another. 

Function after function.

I hate that big calendar thing. 
It is ugly and doesn't go with anything in our kitchen. 
I resent having to look at it. It feels like an intruder. 

I resent that I have to worry about bullies, and child snatchers and whether or not my five year old's backpack it too heavy. 

Is it a third of her body weight?

How the hell should I know?

A kid dashed across East Burnside yesterday, as I was pulling up to pick up Maxwell.

He just about made it all the way across all four lanes of traffic, but was clipped just before reaching the other side. 
He looked sort of shaken up and stunned, but still standing, as the kid he was with pulled him to the sidewalk.  I had to turn off and go around the block so I didn't see what happened next. 
It was totally his fault. 

I felt really bad for the woman that was driving the car. 

She was probably rushing to some appointment, or lost in thought about bullies.

It could have been me crashing into a kid. 

It could have been my air headed kid wading out into four lanes of traffic without a thought.

By the time Maxwell got into our car I was furious. 


"OK, Mom"

It isn't good parenting, I know, but I can't help myself sometimes...




"ummm, OK.  Is there something going on?"

"A kid from your school just ran across four lanes of traffic, and got hit by a car, a block from a marked crosswalk, and some kids that were being bullied killed themselves and I can't handle the thought of anything bad ever happening to you."

"Mom, I think you need to take a breath.  You need to breathe." 

I took an hour out of my running around and met a friend for coffee, literally between work and picking from school. 
He told me that his girlfriend is pregnant. 
 He is my age, so not young, planning on co-parenting the child, but not necessarily living with the woman.
He is somewhat foggy about  the notion of parenthood, about what it will mean to be a parent, how what we do now is different from what it meant to our parents to "have kids", or why parents are so crazy about their children. 
We were cartoon characters;  an artist's absurd vision, aging intellectuals in a cafe, in the middle of the day, drinking coffee and theorizing about the meaning of having a child. 

I have wrestled to have an identity outside of parenting, making a point not to talk about my kids to this friend and was secretly thrilled to no longer have to struggle so hard to keep up my end of the conversation, on topics outside of parenthood.

"You have no idea how much you will care about your child. You will love your child in a manner that is superior to all those chump parents out there, your love for your child will be uniquely organic and authentic and real. Your child will be miraculous."